Staying Motivated

By on November 9, 2016


 It can be really difficult to stay motivated when you feel like you’re not improving, no matter how hard you’re trying. With ballet, the steps are small, but they add up. For example, I have always struggled with my lack of turnout. I’ve worked on it every day my entire career, with seemingly no results day-to-day. However, when I look back at where I was even a couple of years ago, the difference is night and day.

Sometimes improvements are too little to see, but nevertheless, these DO add up. It’s frustrating to see a classmate leaps and bounds ahead of you or receive praise from the instructor when they clearly aren’t working to their full potential. Only YOU know if you’re working as hard as you can. It sounds cheesy, but I think that the true satisfaction comes from just knowing that you’re working as hard as you possibly can and learning as much as you can. If you can do that, you just have to have faith that you are growing.

Remember that everyone goes at their own pace and everyone has their own path. I remember when I was a teen; I would obsessively compare myself to the 9-year-old freaks-of-nature-prodigy-children from competitions like YAGP. I would watch videos of them successfully executing ridiculous feats–ten pirouettes, 32 fouettés peppered with quads, crazy extension, and other tricks. I couldn’t get past the fact that these kids were younger than me and they could do so much more! Now that I’m older, it’s so much clearer to me that there are so many ways to measure an artist. Artistry, experience, stage presence, finesse, etc. are all also important pieces of the puzzle that are often overlooked in competitions. Another reality is that a lot of these “competition kids” are blessed with a large amount of talent at a young age, but everyone else sort of catches up with them as time passes.

I’m not here to put down successful competition dancers; I’m just using it as an example of how you can get caught up in over-analyzing one aspect of another dancer and feel inadequate in comparison. Again, it comes back to the idea of not comparing yourself to others. It’s definitely easier said than done. When it comes down to it, comparing your career or path to anyone else’s is going to do nothing but drive you crazy. Everyone has their unique struggles and everyone has their own unique way of getting to wherever their destination may be.

About Alexandra Pullen

Alexandra Pullen was born in Nashville, Tennessee, and was raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she began her initial ballet training at a local community center. Pullen studied at Dance Center Evanston, Evanston School of Ballet, and Chicago Ballet Arts, and the Ruth Page School of Dance, where she joined their company, the Civic Ballet of Chicago. She trained on scholarship at the Joffrey Academy of Ballet in Chicago under Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev. She toured with the Joffrey Trainees to perform as Clara in The Nutcracker Suite. She studied on scholarship at summer programs of the San Francisco Ballet School, School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. In 2012, Pullen competed in the Youth America Grand Prix Chicago Semi-Finals and received a gold medal in the classical category and a silver medal in the contemporary category. She was a Finalist in New York City. In September 2012, Pullen was awarded the Shoot for Change Scholarship to attend the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre, and joined ABT Studio Company two weeks later. Pullen joined ABT as an apprentice 2013 and was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2014. With ABT, Pullen's rep included Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Ashton's The Dream, Manon, Cinderella, Gaite Parisienne, Les Sylphide, La Bayadere, and Twyla Tharp's Bach Partita. She toured ABT to destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Australia, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis. This is her second season with Colorado Ballet.

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